Friday Follow-Up

This week:

-- It's been the kind of week where we need the furnace on in the morning, and the air-conditioning on in the afternoon. The tomato and pepper plants have wilted and turned black after the weekend's frost. The peppers I picked last weekend are all cut and frozen for future use.

-- The grackles are congregating for their flight south for the winter. These blackbirds gather in huge flocks that darken trees and lawns and power lines. One part of the group will take to the air and wheel around, followed by the rest... it resembles a black cloud turning and twisting and dipping in the sky, and is great fun to watch. Grackle flocks to me are like Indian summer and the leaves turning colors: signs of fall. My wish is to someday have my camera as a flock flies around me. While I didn't have my camera with me, twice this week I was very close to a flock. First a small group rushed past me as I stood under the oak filling the horses' water trough; I could hear the "thrum" of their wings as they zoomed by. The second time my son thought he heard our horses or the neighbor's cows in the unfenced woods across the road, a sound like hoofsteps. I walked over to investigate, but the loud noises were made by the combined hundreds of grackles walking through the dried oak leaves on the ground. I stood at the edge of the trees for several minutes, and watched the birds as they stepped and hopped from one end of the woods to the other. Both times were awe-inspiring.

-- The holsteins were at our pond two mornings in a row, and up near the goats' pen at feeding time both days as well. Several hopped over the sagging barbed wire fence into the roadway that second evening. I didn't know if they had come back over, or if the rest of the herd followed them, but I didn't see them again. Several days later I watched their owner slowly driving his bright orange UTV up the road past our place, with cows following him. I hope he finally got them all home.

-- Don't forget to set the clocks back Saturday night before going to bed. (Somehow, my animals don't understand the concept of "an extra hour of sleep".)


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